FSI Igbo Language Course

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What is the FSI Igbo Basic Course?

FSI Igbo Basic first appeared in 1962 and consists of 30 units. The first 24 units are made up of dialogues, which present the new language for the lesson, followed by grammar explanations and then drills for practice.

After this, Unis 25-30 consist of dialogues and short narratives designed to help students deepen their knowledge of the language. Each unit is accompanied by audio recordings of all dialogues and drills.

Preceding the main body of the course is a series of tone drills intended to help students master the sounds of the language before beginning the course. Unfortunately, the first “tape” is missing, and only tapes 2-4 are currently available.

Since there were (and still are) very few reference books dealing with Igbo, the authors of this course made an effort to provide more extensive grammar descriptions than otherwise might have been expected.

At the end of the book, you will also find a word list, which is especially useful since there are still very few resources available for those studying this language.

How was FSI Igbo Basic originally used?

This FSI Igbo Basic course was originally designed for US diplomatic staff who were preparing for postings in areas where Igbo is spoken. They would have studied the course intensively, with around six hours of class time per day.

This was supplemented by another two hours of personal study each day, and during class as well as in their free time, they were encouraged to speak only Igbo. This way, within only a relatively short amount of time, they were able to achieve a high level of proficiency in the language.

How can you use FSI Igbo Basic?

Although you won’t be able to replicate the perfect conditions enjoyed by US diplomats, this free Igbo course can still be extremely useful since, although it was intended for use with an instructor, it has also been designed to be suitable for individual study.

You can simply work through the course as it is, listening to the dialogues, reading the explanations and practising the drills.

The first part of the section dealing with tones is missing, but if you listen carefully to the other recordings and repeat what you hear, this doesn’t need to be a major problem.

The course also includes some other materials such as supplementary pronunciation exercises and extra recordings of Igbo. However, these are either poorly explained or simply don’t function correctly, so these additional resources will probably be less useful.

Taking it further

Of course, you can never learn a language from books and recordings alone, so at the earliest opportunity, I urge you to take your new Igbo skills out into the real world and put them to the test.

Look for native Igbo speakers to practice with and do your best to make using Igbo a part of your daily life. Then, when you start doing this, you will begin to realize how much progress you are already making.

Student Text


1 2 3 4a 4b 5 6 7 8 9a
9b 10 11 12a 12b 13a 13b 14a 14b 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23a 23b 24
25 26 27 28 29 30

Tone drills

d-g h-s t-w


Basic Igbo/Intermediate Igbo --Linda Sangster, John Chimezie--

Vowels, Tones, and Review 1            
Tonal Alterations 2a 2b 3        
Vowel Elisions Verbal Tenses, 4a 4b 4c        
Verbs and the negative 5a 5b 5c 5d 5e    
Verbal suffixes; imperatives; hortatives; greetings 7a 7b 8a 8b 8c 9a 9b
10a 10b 11a 11b      


L01 Excerpts from Nza Na Obu (Ibo Story Book) Oral Ibo Stories